Redefining “significant woodlands”

From our 2015-16 Annual Report:

The 2014 version of the Provincial Policy Statement obliges municipalities to adopt the criteria set out in the Ministry’s Natural Heritage Reference Manual to determine whether a woodland is “significant” and thus part of the Natural Heritage System. Erwin [Dreessen] and Owen Clarkin attended a stakeholder consultation meeting called by the City’s senior environmental planner; other attendees were the Conservation Partners, the NCC and Ecology Ottawa. The meeting was to prepare him for a meeting with the Ministry’s staff on the fine points of interpretation of the Manual. In a welcome gesture of openness, the minutes of both our meeting and of the discussion with staff were made available. A key point is that “significant” woodlots are to be identified in both urban and rural areas.

On September 12, 2016 we gathered again to hear the City’s proposed policy changes.  Here are the slides of the presentation; they were also shared with the development industry.  These proposals are now undergoing internal circulation and may change before being officially brought forward.

The new policy would delete the definition found in policy 1(c) of section 2.4.2 of the Official Plan and instead adopt a definition based on chapter 7 of the Natural Heritage Manual.  The chapter recommends criteria based on size, ecological functions, uncommon characteristics, and economic and social functional values.

These proposals are headed for Planning Committee on November 22 as part of a PPS 2014 compliance report and would be rolled in to the supplementary Official Plan Amendment that will get the appeals of OPA 150 back on track.